In the face-to-face meeting of the Asia Pacific Joint Group (APG) – a regional affiliate of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) – the 10-member official delegation of Pakistan faced some biting questions over Islamabad’s efforts against terror financing. Not surprising at all, the toughest questions that Pakistani delegation had to answer were raised by the Indian participants of the meeting.

Despite the earlier protests and reservation of Islamabad against including India as participants, the request of not including India was turned down. As the reports reveal that the Indian participants were hard on the Pakistani delegation, it is clear that Pakistan’s initial fears that Indian participation in the meeting would mar objective analysis of Pakistan’s efforts are not misplaced.

Nevertheless, the delegation did brief the APG about how Islamabad has enhanced its efforts against not only terror financing but also put nine more organisations on the list of banned outfits. Moreover, the government’s actions to block the accounts and financial flows along with seizing their assets were among many other steps that the Pakistani state had taken recently to in compliance with international efforts of curbing terror financing.

The Pakistani government in recent times has taken every reservation of the international community, especially those of FATF, quite seriously. The officials in Islamabad have taken and are taking all the necessary steps to meet the international standards and protocols against terror financing.

Some of the recent actions that need a mention are the directions of the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) to the customs investigation officers to conduct a probe into currency smuggling cases related to any trans-national terrorist networks and individuals. The actions of Pakistan Customs between July 2018 and April 2019 shows that Pakistan is taking every available step to curtail any illegal move that can be linked with terror financing.

While APG will give FATF its analysis of the compliance report that Pakistan submitted in the meeting, the group needs to keep in mind the recent steps that Islamabad has taken against terror groups, individuals and terror financing. The group should consider the overall improvement that Pakistan has made since the group made on-site inspections. Moreover, it also needs not to allow Indian participants to lobby against Pakistan for the sake of keeping an objective analysis of Pakistan’s efforts.

Having said this, the government of Pakistan needs to take firm actions and devise policies in the financial sector that can bring any suspicious transaction to a complete halt. Moreover, the proscribed groups should not be allowed to operate under any other name if the state wants to get out of the grey list that it is currently on.